In the Qur’an, Almighty Allah says:
We built seven firm layers above you. We installed a blazing lamp. (An-Naba’ 78:12-13)
As we know, the only source of light in the solar system is the sun. With advances in technology, astronomers discovered that the moon was not a source of light, but that it merely reflects the light reaching it from the sun. The expression “lamp” in the above verse is a translation of the Arabic word “siraj“, which most perfectly describes the sun, the source of light and heat.
In the Qur’an, Almighty Allah employs different words when referring to such celestial bodies as the moon, the sun, and the stars. This is how the differences between the structures of the sun and moon are expressed in the Qur’an:
Don’t you see how He created seven heavens in layers and placed the moon as a light in them and made the sun a blazing lamp? (Nuh 71:15-16)
In the above verse, the word “light” is used for the moon and the word “lamp” for the sun. The word used for the moon refers to a light-reflecting, bright, and motionless body. The word used for the sun refers to a celestial body which is always burning, a constant source of heat and light.
On the other hand, the word “star” comes from the Arabic root “najama“, meaning “appearing, emerging, visible”. As in the verse below, stars are also referred to by the word “thaqib”, which is used for that which shines and pierces the darkness with light — self-consuming and burning. The verse reads:
It is the star that pierces through darkness! (At-Tareq 86:3)
We now know that the moon does not emit its own light but reflects what reaches it from the sun. We also know that the sun and stars do emit their own light. These facts were revealed in the noble Qur’an in an age when mankind simply did not have the means to make scientific discoveries of their own accord. It was an age when peoples’ knowledge of celestial bodies was severely restricted, to say the least. This further emphasises the miraculous nature of the book of Islam.
Orbits & Rotating Universe
One of the most important reasons for the great equilibrium in the universe is the fact that celestial bodies follow specific paths. Stars, planets, and satellites all rotate around their own axes and also rotate together with the system of which they are a part. The universe functions within a finely-tuned order, just like the wheels in a factory.
There are more than 100 billion galaxies in the visible universe and each small galaxy contains approximately a billion stars. Furthermore, each big galaxy contains more than a trillion. Many of these stars have planets and many of those planets have satellites. All these celestial bodies follow the most finely calculated paths and orbits. For millions of years, each one has been moving in its own path in flawless harmony with all the others. In addition to these, there are also a great many comets moving along in their own pre-determined paths.
In addition, the paths in the universe are not restricted to a few celestial bodies. The solar system and even other galaxies also exhibit considerable motion around other centres. Every year, the earth, and the solar system with it, moves some 500 million km from where they were the previous year. It has been calculated that even the slightest deviation from celestial bodies’ paths could have drastic consequences that might spell the end of the entire system. For example, the consequences of the earth’s deviating from its course by a mere 3 mm have been described in one source as follows:
While rotating around the sun, the earth follows such an orbit that, every 18 miles, it only deviates 2.8 millimetres from a direct course. The orbit followed by the earth never changes, because even a deviation of 3 millimetres would cause catastrophic disasters: If the deviation were 2.5 mm instead of 2.8 mm, then the orbit would be very large, and all of us would freeze. If the deviation were 3.1 mm, we would be scorched to death.
Another characteristic of heavenly bodies is that they also rotate around their own axes. The verse which reads: ([I swear] by heaven with its cyclical systems) (At-Tareq 86:11) indicates this truth. Naturally, at the time when the Qur’an was revealed, people had no telescopes with which to study bodies millions of kilometres away in space. They did not possess our advanced observation technology or our modern knowledge of physics and astronomy. It was therefore impossible to establish that space had (oscillating orbits) (Adh-Dhariyat 51:7), as described in the verse. However, the Qur’an, revealed 14 centuries ago, provided clear information concerning that fact. This is proof that this book is indeed Allah’s word.
The Sun’s Trajectory
It is stressed in the Qur’an that the sun and moon follow specific trajectories:
It is He Who created night and day and the sun and moon, each one swimming in a sphere. (Al-Anbiya’ 21:33)
The word swim in the above verse is used to describe the movement of the sun in space. The word means that the sun does not move randomly through space, but that it rotates around its axis and follows a course as it does so. The fact that the sun is not fixed in position but rather follows a specific trajectory is also stated in another verse:
And the sun runs to its resting place. That is the decree of the Almighty, the All-Knowing. (Ya-Sin 36:38)
These facts set out in the noble Qur’an were only discovered by means of astronomical advances in our own time. According to astronomers’ calculations, the sun moves along a path known as the Solar Apex in the path of the star Vega at an incredible speed of 720,000 kmph. In rough terms, this shows that the sun traverses some 17.28 million km a day. As well as the sun itself, all the planets and satellites within its gravitational field also travel the same distance.
The Moon’s Orbit
And We have decreed set phases for the moon, until it ends up looking like an old date branch. It is not for the sun to overtake the moon nor for the night to outstrip the day; each one is swimming in a sphere. (Ya-Sin 36:39-40)
The moon does not follow a regular orbit like the satellites of other planets. As it orbits the earth, it sometimes moves behind it and sometimes in front. As it also moves with the earth around the sun, it actually follows a constant pattern resembling the letter “S” in space. This route, traced by the moon in space, is described in the Qur’an as resembling an old date branch and does indeed resemble the twisted form of the date tree branch. Indeed, the word “urjoon” employed in the Qur’an refers to a thin and twisted date branch and is used to describe that part left after the fruit has been picked. The way that this branch is described as old is also most appropriate, since old date branches are thinner and more twisted.
There is no doubt that it was impossible for anyone to have any knowledge about the orbit of the moon 1400 years ago. The way that this pattern, identified by modern technology and accumulated knowledge, was revealed in the Qur’an is yet another scientific miracle of this divine book.
Taken with slight modifications from Harun Yahya’s book: Allah’s Miracles in the Qur’an.